After a challenging set against the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays welcome the Kansas City Royals into Tropicana Field on Monday, when they begin a three-game series to cap their current homestand. Both teams lost (at least) three consecutive games over the weekend.
To be blunt, the Rays looked like crap against the reigning World Series champions. Tampa Bay is built on pitching, defense, and timely hitting, yet the Rays could not pull out the late-inning heroics against Boston, resulting in three tough losses. Over the life of series, the Rays went 4-for-23 wRISP — unable to drive in critical runs time and again — while members of the A-Bullpen (Chaz Roe, Adam Kolarek, Jose Alvarado, and Diego Castillo) flirted with lapses in command. To his credit, Castillo pulled it back together in the series finale, throwing 21 of 28 sliders for strikes (75% strike rate) while inducing 10 swings and misses. Another positive, Daniel Robertson appears to be snapping out of his prolonged skid, having gone 3-for-11 over the weekend with a double, three RBI, and two walks.
The Royals won the first game of their series against the Yankees, then proceeded to drop the ensuing three, giving up six runs or more in each contest. They are 5-10 over their last 15 games, and 0-4 in their last four games at the Trop.
Rays Pitching Probables
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will call on Yonny Chirinos (3-0, 3.26 ERA), likely Ryan Yarbough (2-1, 5.84 ERA) following an opener on Tuesday, and a pitcher to be named before the series finale. I will update this piece once any updates are made available. Ned Yost will respond with Brad Keller (2-1, 2.64 ERA), Homer Bailey (2-1, 4.30 ERA), and Jake Junis (1-2, 6.26 ERA).
Yonny Chirinos allowed one hit and a walk over five scoreless relief innings of on Wednesday. He struck out five batters. Chirinos fired 47 of 70 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate) en route to an easy win. The right-hander now has a 3.26 ERA and sparkling 4.75 K/BB across 19-1/3 innings.
Brad Keller allowed two runs on four hits and four walks over five innings before he was tossed on Wednesday. He struck out three and did not factor in the decision. Keller’s afternoon ended one pitch into the sixth inning after he plunked Tim Anderson, who hit a two-run homer off him earlier in the ballgame. He was nearing his exit regardless as he finished the day with 91 pitches (50 strikes, 55% strike rate). Keller relies primarily on his 94 mph four-seam fastball with little movement, an 86 mph worm-killer slider, and a 93 mph sinker with a little arm-side run. Key Matchups: Yandy Diaz (1-3), Guillermo Heredia (1-4)
Ryan Yarbrough allowed three runs on three hits, including a home run, in three innings of work against the Red Sox on Friday. It is not certain whether he will pitch on Tuesday, or if Kevin Cash will lean on someone like Jalen Beeks as the bulk innings guy. I will update this piece once any updates are made available.
Homer Bailey allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out six, walked two, and earned his first win since last May. The veteran right-hander has a 5.29 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and a 3.5 K/BB through his first three starts (17 innings of work). Bailey relies primarily on his 94 mph four-seam fastball with natural sinking action, and an 85 mph worm-killer splitter, while also mixing in a hard 88 mph 12-6 slider, and a 79 mph knuckle curveball. Key Matchups: Yandy Diaz (1-1, 2B, RBI), Tommy Pham (3-11, RBI, BB)
Blake Snell threw six shutout innings in his last start, allowing just one hit and one walk with nine strikeouts. He left with a one-run lead, but the Rays bullpen couldn’t hold this one. While that was disappointing, Snell was outstanding once more, and he’s allowed only one run in his last 19 innings of work. The southpaw has 33 strikeouts over that stretch. Overall, Snell is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA, with a 0.76 WHIP and 36 strikeouts over 25 innings. After fracturing his toe, Snell will be activated in time for Wednesday’s start after spending a minimum amount of time on the IL (10-days).
Jake Junis allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out two over 5-1/3 innings against the Yankees. Junis gave up a two-run blast in the third inning, a solo homer in the fifth, and two more runs in the sixth before being pulled from the game with the Royals down by three. The 26-year-old right-hander has surrendered four or more runs in each of his last three outings and has performed to a 6.26 ERA and 1.54 WHIP with 26 strikeouts across 27-1/3 innings of work. Junis relies primarily on his 82 mph slider, a whiffy 92 mph four-seam fastball, and a 92 mph sinker, while also mixing in a firm 86 mph changeup with cutting action. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3), Ji-Man Choi (2-3, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (3-6, 2B, BB), Brandon Lowe (1-2, 2 RBI), Micahel Perez (1-3)
— Expect the Rays ‘pen to be taxed until Blake Snell returns, either in the series finale Wednesday, or when they begin their next road trip.
— The team received a diagnosis on Austin Meadows, who was placed on the 10-day Injured List (IL) with a sprained thumb. After undergoing an MRI on Sunday, Meadows said that good news is afoot — surgery on his thumb won’t be necessary. The outfielder hopes to miss only a couple weeks on the IL.
Rays manager Kevin Cash called the diagnosis “great news” and the team would be happy if he’s back in the lineup in three weeks.
— Cash also said Ji-Man Choi (calf) is feeling much better and is “totally available” Monday night if needed, although he would like to give him another day if possible.